Sunday, September 25, 2011


Four days of wilderness.
Backpacking. Solo camping. Shelter building. Tree chopping. Fire building. 

The first day.

We hiked to the same lake I visited with Lars and company last weekend.
After setting up camp everyone left for the mountain.

Rather than tackle the same peak I'd hiked two days before, 
I decided to stay at base camp and choose rest. 

Rolinke claims a spot for our tent
Staying behind allowed me to finally connect with Rolinke 
(Our lovely, dreadlocked, herbaceous, Dutch, base mama) 

We shared mutual passions and visions.
 Hostels. Travelers. Pilgrims. Community living. Big meals on the floor.

God is stirring up something wild this year. 
I'm really glad I stayed behind in camp that afternoon.

Choosing rest is such a struggle for me. 
I feel a feverish need to seize every opportunity.
All the time.

This last winter, my good friend, Collins, confronted me about this.
"Rachael, Most of the time it's an outpouring of joy, but sometimes, it's just restlessness."

What is my motivation? 

I shared with Martina that one of my goals for this year is actually to do less and to say no.

"Don't think of it as saying no. Think of it as saying yes to something better."

I can do all kine stuff, but everyting not good fo me. 
I can do all kine stuff, but dat no make nobody come mo strong inside. 
-1 Corinthians 10:23 from Da Jesus Book


Ann J has never seen snow or been hiking.
She is a fearless woman of the wilderness
Ann J's built her first fire. 
Day Two
Eight hours. Heaviest pack. Ridge. Peak. Valley. Peak. Valley. Peak.

It was a brutal day. Some of us almost didn't make it.

Outdoor trips here are intense.
They can sometimes teeter on the edge of un-enjoyable. 

By the time I get home I'll practically be able to float down the PCT.

The wilderness sure is gorgeous here, though.

Home in the distance.
We wandered all these hills and mountains.
The mountains never end.

It was a long day.
Here, we drink straight from the streams and lakes, without filtering.
It's apparently "safe" but some of us got a bit sick.

I chose dehydration. I probably drank 2 liters in two days. 

It poured freezing rain for the majority of the trip.

We rejoined the rest of our party who'd opted to drive most of the way.
They greeted us with fire and chocolate back at camp.
It was so nice to have a treat after working so hard to get there. 

All day, in the back of my mind,
 I knew we were having salmon soup for dinner and that was not motivating.

Oh, chocolate, you work wonders on a dampened spirit.

We shared raw and honest stories. 
I'm honored to live with these beautiful, messy, people.

Fire-start gathering.
The third day.

We were sent into the woods with a saw and a tarp and told to come back in the morning.

Shelter. Complete with hoards of spiders.
fish cakes
I enjoy being alone. It doesn't happen too often anymore.


I crawled into my damp tarp shelter and watched the lights across the fjord. I was just about to turn in, when suddenly, illuminated in the candlelight, an enormous spider that crawled across the hood of my sleeping bag. 

The whole valley heard my unholy, murderous howl
(Think Westley's death scream in The Princess Bride)

He brought friends. 
Not okay.

The rest of the evening I spent, only exposing my nose from the sleeping bag 
and meditating on Psalm 91:10 
(My favorite psalm in the wilderness. Very applicable to spiders)

The fourth day

I woke up before dawn and decided to pick berries till I was allowed to rejoin at camp. 
One by one everyone met up in the forest. We were all pretty happy to see each other. 

We hiked back down to the vans and discovered that 
our drivers didn't leave the spare keys.

 We waited an extra 40 minutes to be rescued.
There was great exasperation.

Sometimes adventures are not so pleasant.

Thankful for a weekend of resting (and reindeer cookies)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Doing?

It seems that things are finally beginning to slow down and I'm starting to find a sense of rhythm.

The weeks alternate between outdoor activities and teaching. 
Every other weekend we have local ministry.

My local ministry is a youth group about three hours away in Godøynes, near Bodø.

Last Friday, Lars, Per Henrik and I teamed up with Tegan and Christophe who were going to Bodø.

Ferry to Ørnes
Cristophe making lamb meatballs in Godøynes
Lars and Per Henrik

Our youth group is hosted by a free church, rather than the Norwegian state church, so it's rather small.

There were only a handful of students that evening and they were quite shy about speaking English. 

Tegan and Christophe returned around midnight and we all camped out in the church. 

The next morning we drove to Bodø and spent a ridiculous amount of time hunting for supplies by item number in the hardware store. 

There was a long and lovely drive home.

A mighty waterfall was spotted so we went to say hello.

So mighty was the waterfall that it hit the valley wall opposite. 

Everyone was pretty exhausted by the time we arrived back at the base.

I napped till dinner and woke up to this.

"When the sun shines here, it looks like God is kissing the earth" -Tegan

Having slept all afternoon I was wide awake for Saturday night's, last minute, crab "picking" escapade. 

I assumed we'd be sitting out in the fjord with a crab pot for a few hours. 

No, it was so much better. 

Crab picking: rowing over to a rock, sneaking up on a crab and "picking" it off the rock with a rake. 

So much fun.

Also, the Northern lights joined the party. 
They danced with the bright moon on the glassy sea.

Sunday I went hiking around where Lars was scouting for this week's outdoor trip.

It was resplendent.

Rachael-"Beauty break?"
 Lars- "Are you beautified yet?"
I've hiked so many of these hills already. Love these fresh new mountains.
Photo: Michael Moritz

Came home to a bonfire and the golden hour.
The base family was waiting with a crustaceous feast and a plethora of hardware tools.

I beginning to feel really safe and at home here in Engavågen.

 I feel so safe and at home that I'm getting wanderlust. 
"We're not on holiday. We live here!"

On that note, Lars and I are heading to Latvia on a short term mission in less than two weeks
(please pray)

Things keep moving at a reckless pace.
I'm giving myself permission to choose rest.
(Although resting still usually looks like exploring mountains with soggy dreadlocks and muddy boots)

 I am learning it's okay not to adventure, all the time.

Stop. Breath. Listen. Rest. Still. Repeat. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest? Stand up.

Norway looks like home. Oslo was all wet and pines and coffee.

I flew into Bodø expecting to catch a bus and ferry home.
However, I was greeted by the blonde and beaming Jonas and Erik, at the airport.
They drove me home over bright fjords and ship swallowing eddies, through mountain tunnels and dark pines.

It was dark out but we caught a glimpse of the wide, blood red, horizon in the distance. 

We are above the arctic circle. There are moose and tall trees and nettles.

We got into the base around eleven in the evening. I was the last student to arrive.
Tegan (Canada), Ann J (Taiwan) and I all share a room.
It's clean and warm and bright and looks out over the islands.

Roomies visit the store.
There are 11 students in the DTS. With ages ranging from 18-40
We have one student from Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Taiwan and the rest are from Norway. 

I'm the only American. 
Although, the only other American on base is also from Bellingham! It's a small, small world.

Nordtun Base
The first day we had worship and a brief instruction on campstoves.

Campstoves? Oh, yes!
 Because the next morning we were off on a four day ice-climbing and backpacking trip to Svartisen

Backpack, Backpack

Ferry to Svartisen
Biking to base camp

If I'm being honest. The first day was nightmarish. 
Ice climbing. Pouring rain. Heavy fog. Norwegian instructions.

Also, there is nothing quite as humbling as falling down on your butt half a dozen times in front of a bunch of strangers.

Back at camp, I was in charge of food.
Unfortunately, I couldn't read the instructions (Norwegian, again).
I sat around confusedly, trying to ask for the translation and convert measurements into the metric system.

Then the sky cleared up.

The second day of climbing started off just as frustrating as the first day. 
...but that was before I discovered that I had been using my ice axe in my RIGHT hand. 

I'm left-handed

...yes (and blonde)

After that illuminating discovery, it was dreamy.
I loved climbing.

That night we met up with the other half of the group who had been backpacking up on the mountain for the first two days.
We ate a massive dinner.

Salmon noodle dinner
My leader, Oystein, glanced around the surrounding spruce forest and asked if I'd like to learn how to chop down a tree.
Ummm, yes!

"Perhaps, this is the biggest herb you have been picking?"

Then he built a huge fire, on dry moss, on public land.
You can do that in Norway.
(You can also camp anywhere, even in someone's yard, as long as you're more than 150 meters from their house)

The next morning we hiked up to Tåkeheimen and the sun came out to join us.
It was more of a scramble than a hike. 4km and 1454meters up a very slick mountain. 
The trails aren't often named or clearly marked, here.
 It's so wild and rugged.

The best part was discovering that there are mountain blueberries growing here as well. 
I love living in Scandinavia.

Bringing the heat.
We arrived at our mountaintop cabin way ahead of schedule so we took off,
 up the path, over the glacier, above the clouds, to the peak, Hegelandsbukken!

Oh. Glory.

I hiked back down with Olga (Netherlands) and we shared our journeys and excitement in the golden hour. 
She is a kindred spirit for sure.

We cooked all the rest of our food back at the cabin.
Sausages. Macaroni. Tomato soup. Turkey burgers.
 It was so hygge.
Just like Thanksgiving.

"We have a never ending supply of sausages in Nordtun.
They grow in the freezer."
I'm continually being reminded that good does not mean comfortable or safe.
 Papa is continuing to meet me in the unknowns and the uncomfortable.

 I'm so thankful to be here.