As we walked down the steps from the airplane, we were greeted by a stiff wind and very “brisk” temperatures. One of the local men that we met later said, “welcome to the green winter,” implying that there are two winters in Norway, one is white and cold, the other is green and cold. That is exactly what we experienced the first few days; green and cold. But after the first week of rainy weather, the sun has now been shining almost every day and the temperature actually climbed to 70F last Friday. People everywhere are laying in the sun and playing in the water because the Norwegian people love to be outside, especially in nice weather. Currently, daylight hours are from 4:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. It is somewhat strange to see light in the sky as you get ready for bed, but the dark window blinds help with that.
Our temporary home is ALMOST 600 square feet; a one bedroom apartment in the basement of our boss’ parents’ home. It is very comfortable and we are glad to have it. It is only a 20 minute bike ride to the office and we learned very quickly that our sedentary lifestyle is now over! Norwegians are very outdoorsy people and they don’t bat an eye at riding their bikes or walking. In fact, our landlord said she rides her bike to work every day of the year, unless it is icy. We’ve already had several people confirm for us that “there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”
We have been blessed to secure a very nice apartment and we will move in on July 1. It is near the office and has a great view of the local river. I am looking forward to being able to ride a bike to work on a regular basis, but Jo will probably opt for the bus or car (when we get one).
The OM Norway team now consists of 4 full-time employees, Jo and I, and Willy and KariAnne Meberg (the field leaders). They have been the field leaders for 4-5 years, but they have been working mostly alone this entire time, with part-time help from a few volunteers. The situation is like a boat that has been tied up at the dock getting repaired and re-fitted so it can sail. Now that there are more workers (us), the anchor is being raised, the sails are being hoisted, and the ship is about to leave the harbor. They are very excited to see their vision finally come to life and we are excited to be part of the next chapter of OM Norway.
Our first few days in the office were spent finalizing our job descriptions, getting trained on the personnel/data management system they use, and high-level discussions about the vision of the team. Now we are starting to get into the details of the long term strategies and making action plans. Because there are so few workers, the amount of work that each of us will be responsible for is almost overwhelming. But, we knew this when we agreed to join the team and we are excited about the roles we will fill.
We didn’t expect to start traveling right away, but we found out yesterday that we will be attending a major teen event in Germany in July. We’ll be there to start networking with workers from other OM fields as well as starting the recruiting process for possible future workers in Norway.
Jo is already working with several Norwegian applicants who are preparing to go on short term missions this summer. The process here is similar to what we used in the States, but there are many “upgrades” we plan to implement to help make it smoother and faster for her as well as the applicants.
I have started the process of contacting existing partner churches as well as initiating meetings with potential new churches. These churches are scattered throughout southern Norway. A quick check on Google maps says it will take 20 driving hours to get to all the towns involved.
Because of all the driving I will be doing, a car is a necessity, but not just any car. Since most of my driving will be in un-populated areas, it must be dependable and because of the hours involved, it must also be comfortable and above all, it must be affordable. There is a local mechanic who used to work with OM and he is helping me find the right one. We tested one last week, but it just didn’t fit the bill so we are still shopping.
The “I don’t know” syndrome
Overall we are comfortable here. It is a safe and secure environment. But, there is a low-grade annoyance that we feel constantly. That is the “I don’t know” syndrome (I just made that name up). This refers to the many things we don’t know; we don’t know what the street signs mean, we don’t know how to use the washing machine (but we’re learning), we don’t know where the government offices are that we need, we don’t know where the banks are, we don’t know where we can park in town, we don’t know where the bus goes, we don’t know… Being a type-A, control person, this REALLY bothers me and makes me feel isolated and hesitant. It isn’t debilitating, but more like a mosquito that is constantly buzzing in your ear. Language classes will greatly help us defeat those mosquitos but the next classes don’t start until mid-August.
One example of how not knowing could be a problem: we were out driving (exploring in a borrowed car) the countryside this weekend and I saw a sign that I couldn’t translate. It seemed to be some kind of “alert” sign so I slowed down, but I didn’t see anything abnormal. When Jo started yelling “STOP,” I realized that the road had suddenly narrowed to one lane and a car was coming towards us. I guess that is what the sign meant. Good thing we were going slowly.
Thank you to all who have contacted us and asked how we are doing. Those touches from home have helped outweigh the feelings of isolation and we really do appreciate them.
Here is our new contact info:
Phone: PLEASE remember that we are 6 hours ahead of the east coast!
The exit code for the US is 011, the country code for Norway is 47. So you will start with 011 47, then:
We use Viber and Whats App for free calls and texting. We are both on Face Time, Facebook, and Skype.
Jo and I must give grace to each other as well as to ourselves. This is a difficult transition for both of us and we need to treat each other gently.
This is a must!
Remembering the “Why”
When life here gets stressful or discouraging, we must remember why we volunteered to come. We are here because there are people around the world who will never have the opportunity to hear the saving gospel of Jesus Christ unless someone goes and tells them. Our role is to share this with the Norwegian people and then help them to go and tell others around the globe.
Revelation 7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.