Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Traditions

This Christmas found me in Valencia eating yam pancakes and catching a bus to Barcelona.
Not quite traditional, this year.

My mom collects snow globes.
Only glass ones, she never has have anything plastic or tacky.
My favorite is the English caroling ice-skaters.

Growing up my favorite Christmas decoration was a set of golden deer candle holders.
The Christmas after Paul left, they were gone, 
along with several of my most favorite Christmas tree ornaments.

When I was nineteen I came home to find almost an identical set waiting on my desk.
My mom is the queen of Goodwill treasure hunting.

I like to fall asleep under the tree while it's still naked of decor.

Mom's rule of Christmas lights:
Blue Christmas lights are cold, red are ugly, and multi colored are tacky.
The only suitable colors are green and white and sometimes purple.

Kelly always makes us eat a bowl of porridge,
after stockings, before presents on Christmas morning.
After presents we eat real breakfast
with champagne and peach schnapps or cocoa with peppermint.

I love Cream of Wheat. Gracie hates it.
I remember mixing unholy amounts of hot chocolate mix into the pot to try and get her to eat it.
I like to eat the lumpy bits of hot breakfast cereal.
I learned to drive in the snow because we were out.
Kelly taught me.

Mom chooses a special ornament every year for each of us.
She didn't want us flocking to Walmart, frantic for Christmas decorations, when we moved out.
I left home with a box full.

We always get new pajamas on Christmas Eve, because it's so nice to wake up on Christmas feeling swanky in your new pjs.

In Norway:
Santa lives in the barn and eats porridge.
They also have nisse, or house gnomes who live under the house.
The mountain nisse make the gloaming blue hour, with alpine blueberries.
Whoever finds the almond in their Christmas Porridge gets a marzipan pig.

They also sing and dance around the tree.

 I think it seems delightfully pagan for a Christian nation.

After everyone goes to bed on Christmas Day I stay up to watch Little Women.


Saint Lucia

Woke up at 6:45 to the sweetest choir of
pepperkaker bearing children.

Happy St. Lucia Day!

The sun didn't come up today.
It hovered in the Southern sky for an hour or two then lit the Atlantic pink.

It's the last week before Christmas Holiday and our main outreach.

I'll be gone for three months.
Oslo. Valencia. Barcelona. Dublin. Nepal.
Packing, lodging, communication nightmare.
Seven flights. Three trains. Five buses. One ferry.

The boys brought home our Christmas tree, today.

The chaos is a little more manageable with joy, peace,
and a spruce scented mudroom.

Nordtun's handy-dandy Norwegian boys.

I won't be home for Christmas, not even in my dreams.
I'll be in Barcelona gazing lovingly at the hot sun.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things;
also that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace’s arrival.
But no, it’s clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark.
-Anne Lamott

High Standards

Frederik recently got engaged. He helped make ginger carrot soup this afternoon.

"So, describe your dream man to me. Not how he looks but about how his character is."
 I did. After about 10 minutes he exclaimed 
"Oh-ho! Rachael! You're talking about Jesus!"

"You will find a good husband" 
"Yeah, but he is probably living in South Africa."

Monday, November 14, 2011

I saw the light.

Four days of spelunking in Beiarn.
We stopped on the mountain so A.J. could see her first snow
The First Day

We hiked up into the mountains to the first cave. 
In general, I'm quite fond of spelunking. Except when spelunking in caves that are filled with raging rivers. 

We crawled on our bellies on the ledge above these rather turbulent waters. 
This was fine, until Øystein and Henning started scaling the wet cliffs on either side of the waterfall,
 in the dark. 

*Begin instant revaluation of placing trust in the crazy Norwegians*

I was not inclined to climb up after them, but Lars threw me an eyebrow that said I'd better follow him.
Once I was soaking wet it was delightful.

"If you don't grow, you won't be able to offer anything."
photo: Lydia Palsdottir
Caves are gorgeous. Marbled and starry wet ceilings.
We popped up between them in green mossy places full of bright sands, ferns, and waterfalls.  

I led us down a narrow passage back to the water. 
Underground bouldering. Dark silence soaking. River wading. Dew licking. Fear swallowing.
Back down the mountain, filthy and frozen, to find the coziest Norwegian cabin waiting for us.
Even the Northern Lights came out to play.
The Second Day

Clear mountain morning and a long run through farms and forests.
Snowy paths. Southern gospel singing. Kitchen dancing. 
Golden hour tromping back to the hills. 
Those stark, snowy mountains smiled down on us with their wide, rocky grins.

Lunch and fire in the snow in our classiest of caving clothes.
In the last 15 minutes we could feel the wind. We turned out our lights and followed it.

The light came in all green and gold. 
With colors so wet and warm they could quench your thirst.
Curry dinner. Sauna. Milky way. Story telling with Tegan.
The Third Day

Morning. Coffee. Isaiah. Heather Pink Sky. Hymn whistling. Gracious receiving.
Mirjam. Jon. Lars. Christophe. 

There should have been a rope leading to the exit but it was rotted away. I climbed into a tunnel in the ceiling that led us down a new passage. Then we came to a chasm that fell into the river. Lars was barely able to swing himself over. The rest of us had to drag ourselves over the ledge and drop down on the other side. 

It was deliciously terrifying.

Fortunately, there was an exit to our tunnel since we would no have been able to return that way. My excitement at finding it was suffocated by the discovery that my hips would not pass through. Even if they did, I had the smallest set of hips in our party. Magically, they managed to slide out of that unmovable granite birth canal as did everyone else's. 
Belly laughing. Bruised hips. Bruised shins. Bruised elbows. Chapped hands. Cracked lips. 

After, Mirjam wanted to see the top of the mountain. 

Papa sure loves us.

I truly didn't think the day could have been anymore perfect 

but that was before we found...
Unrestrained delight. 

Jon and I filled our helmets full.
 At breakfast, the next morning, we made the most beautiful potato chanterelle scramble.

Muddy, sandy head. Tired body. Peaceful spirit. Joyful heart.

We are oh so blessed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

rain or shine


As it happens.
Yesterday, our long traveling day, was perfect.

Today was...less so. 
Pouring rain and driving winds. We went hiking anyways. 
Endless mountains grow behind our house. Olga. Åge. Christophe. Lars.
It was wet and muddy. I fell over. Lots.

Lars-"Rachael, What are you doing? There are no herbs here to pick!"

The storm tried to blow us away, freeze our fingers, and swallow up the view.
But it was lovely.

And we weren't stuck indoors. Cabin fever strikes often and it strikes HARD.
The sun says goodnight before three.

We sloshed down the side of the mountain to find the cozy, mossy-roofed, Nordtun Cabin.

There we sat the rest of the afternoon, 
giggling in our wet woolens and sipping cocoa by firelight, 
till it got to dark to see each other's faces.

Then we went home.

Free time. 
Less blogging. More THIS.

Monday, October 31, 2011

La La La La Latvia

Lars, David and I were part of a short term missions project, RISK, which sent a Norwegian based team to every country in Europe for the weekend.

The was goal was to bring Jesus to all of Europe.
 But, of course, He was already waiting in Latvia.


We contacted YWAM Riga and stayed in one of their apartments in the former Jewish ghetto.

YWAM Riga doesn't have a "base" but rather several different apartments throughout the city.

A DTS from another Latvian base was also staying in the building for a week of teaching.

Our team joined them for the afternoon and we handed out free bread with The Baltic Bread Project.
The bread is from the bakery under our unit.
We wandered the streets and gave away fresh, hot bread as an expression of Christ's love.

occupation museum 

Latvia was occupied for over fifty years by the Soviets and Nazis.
Latvia declared its independence in 1991.
Although they are a free nation, oppression still hangs in the air.

When they took the bread from our hands it was like their somber faces cracked off.

The real, joyful, glowing parts peeked through.

We live off bread in Norway.
David and I had the pleasure of introducing Lars to such culinary delights as beets and acorn squash.
It was like taking a three year old to the zoo. 

"I've never had anything like this! IT'S AMAZING!"

I'm an international kitchen wizard!
Dal with spinach and feta.

We ate incredibly well during our stay.

We joined the DTS to watch Latvia vs Malta
Hunting down ingredients in the Central Market.
We were invited to make dinner with Elise (one of the leaders of YWAM Riga) on Saturday.
However, she had a party late that afternoon so she gave us free range of her kitchen as well as directions to the bi-monthly Slow Food Organic Market.

We visited the Central Market first for fresh produce

The Menu:
Roasted Acorn Squash with herb butter and honey
Balsamic grilled Portabella mushrooms with caramelized onions and red pepper
Beet salad with avocado, feta, raspberries, walnut, and radishes with chili and honey dressing

We could not, for the life of us, find the illusive organic market. 
We were just about to give up when we turned down a side street and found it in a secret alley.

Oh man.

We bought a loaf of heavy, dark, sweet bread. It weighed more than my cat. DELICOUS!
Apples. Squash. Fancy hat. Can I take you home?
It was the most amazing market, ever.
I wanted to eat everything.

Then we found the eco-catering booth and I just about died.
Beet and bulgur salad, venison and wild boar burgers, cranberry creme brulee
aaaand mouthwateringly beautiful pumpkin soup (we don't have pumpkins in the arctic)

"Is that PUMPKIN SOUP?! Oh, it's breaking my heart!"
"Try it! Let it break your heart."
*taste taste*
"Is your heart breaking?"

David and I ate the most satisfying burger we've ever had.
Venison. Ciabatta bread. Cranberry chutney. Caramelized onions.

I'm ruined forever.

When you arrive at YWAM Riga's rundown apartment building you wouldn't expect to find the perfect oasis of a home that Elise has made. 

Her hygge nest is filled with paintings, exotic spices, medicinal tea and a jungle of herbs.
She has unique collections of pottery, instruments, and art from everywhere she's "pitched her tent".
From Oregon to Australia to Russia.

Elise is a beautiful expression of Papa's heart for hospitality.

Faithful footwear
"It's a didgeridoo."
Koselig kitchen

The eats.
By the way, Lars loved and ate most of the squash.
Poor deprived Norwegian.
Josh Garrels. Enter the Worship Circle. Twinkle lights. Fancy glasses. Fellowship. Excellent.
Latvian dessert.
Peppermint coated cranberries.
Such a blessing
I'm a lousy evangelist. I just want to feed people.

House church.
Dave from YWAM Riga leads a house church in another area of the city.
We had a lovely, sunny walk to his home on Sunday morning.
So inspired by that encouraging family of believers.

Lars and I went walking in the graveyard at golden hour.
"You are feeding me so many new words! Misty. Asphalt. Gloaming!"

Gustaf visits Riga.
The "Norwegian" team

And then it was time to go home.

What a blessed time.
Thanks Riga for the fellowship, beauty, and encouragement!

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