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This – right here, right now – is Norway.

This hike to Månafossen and the Mån Farm with the Hoegers and our church is going in the C2 record books as one of the most Norwegian things we've ever experienced.
 
First, there was the hike to the falls. In the drizzling rain. Rain doesn't slow the Norwegians down one bit.
 
We continued up through the mossy, mysterious forests to Mån Farm.

 

Then we grilled pølse on the bank of the river for lunch. Because of course it's not a true Norwegian outing unless hot dogs are consumed.
 
We cheered on Crister as he tried to rock-hop across the river (wearing his parka in August).
 
He almost made it, but then had to wade the rest of the way barefoot through the glacial river.
 
And that glacial river? The kids were playing in it in their swimsuits. It doesn't matter that the water is frigid….it's summer!
 
THEN the sheep showed up. Just sauntered through the group with their bells jingling like it was totally normal. Which…because it's Norway…it was.
 
And then, you guys, the children started RIDING THE SHEEP!
 
And the grandpas too. In Norwegian sweaters. I mean…. FOR REAL???
 
It was like everything we ever imagined/hoped/dreamed Norway to be came to life right before our eyes in a beautiful, surreal still-life of Norwegian culture.
“'Sup?”
 
 
It could only possibly have been more Norwegian if everyone did the hike wearing cross country skis.
 
But I guess that's what winter is for :)

 

At the Stockholm Temple

Tuesday-Friday we did around 4 temple sessions per day starting at 9 and ending at 6.

At first we were both quite intimidated by spending THAT much time in the temple, as we had only ever done one session at a time before. We were afraid we’d get bored or worse, be that person. You know the one. The one who starts snoring at the worst possible time.

We were pleasantly surprised though! I can’t speak for Chris, but I felt such a sense of peace there that it made everything go quickly, and on the few occasions it went slow I didn’t mind so much. It was wonderful to be there with Chris so often as well as the rest of the ward members.

Usually right after the temple, everyone gathered in the community kitchen at the patron house to make dinner. One night, as is apparently a yearly temple trip tradition, we all went out to a neighboring pizza joint and pigged out on really good pizza.

Chris picked a banana curry pizza. I wasn’t a fan, but he loved it…


Another night, everyone bought their favorite flavor of Haagen-Daas or Ben & Jerry’s and we had a massive family-style ice cream party.


Then the kids would run wild in the yard, the youth would gather to play card games, and the adults would circle around and chat until eventually someone would pick up a guitar or ukulele and the rest of the evening would end up in a big sing-along music fest.

Near the end of the trip I commented to Chris, “I don’t think I’ve felt this much spiritual camaraderie and unity for a week straight since my days of EFY and church history trips. In fact, it kind of feels like an adult Youth Conference.”

I love knowing that those days aren’t behind us :)

 

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Stockholm or BUST!

It takes 18 hours or so to drive from Stavanger to Stockholm. By some definite divine intervention, our plucky little station wagon made it to and from Sweden in one piece. We had some worrisome moments, but I tell ya…blessings come from going to the temple!

We carpooled with our friends Amerigo and Sarah and caravanned with the Steffensen clan. Amerigo and Sarah are originally from the Philipines, which meant that our car was full of a combination of English, Tagalog, and Norwegian the whole drive! So much fun!

Amerigo

 

Of course, we had to stop along the way for a Norwegian hot dog picnic.

Cousins

Rotten watermelon discus

Cousins

Mother and daughter.

 

We wound along the southern coast of Norway, stopping for church in Kristiansand along the way. It was a seriously gorgeous drive! We passed fjords, lakes, rivers, and countless waterfalls. I don't think I will get over how beautiful Norway is as long as we live here. We stopped for the night in Drammen (just outside of Oslo and about half-way to Stockholm) and stayed the night with our stake president's family.

Our stake prez. and wonderful son-in-law.

 

We crossed the border into Sweden the next day and the difference was strangely immediate. For one thing, the speed limit suddenly increased from 70 km/h to 110 km/h! (Go Sweden!) In addition, I had never noticed there were no billboards along the side of the roads in Norway until we started seeing them along the highway in Sweden. The landscape also suddenly became rather boring (sorry Sweden!). Where Norway is full of winding roads and small quaint towns, Sweden was one loooong tree-lined road. With red barns. Lots and lots of red barns.

Ikea in the Motherland!!

Speed bump tee hee hee! (yep, we're still 12 years old ladies and gentlemen)

 

National LDS Church Conference in Oslo

In April, there was a momentous gathering of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Norway. A call went out for as many saints who could make it to gather in Oslo for the first national gathering of church members in over 20 years. Unfortunately, Chris was still doing his 3 week stint in Germany…but I opted to go on my own and was sure glad I did!

The meetings were wonderful and it was awesome to see the church gathered together and unified. And a bit humbling to realize that the entire membership of the church Norway barely equalled the number of members at our Stake Conferences back home.  It’s growing though! Enough so that…drumroll for the best news of the weekend… they are creating a second stake here in Norway! Previously, the church here was organized with one stake in the Oslo area and then the Stavanger district and another district up north.  The Stavanger Branch has now become the Stavanger Ward part of the Drammen, Norway Stake! The members here have been waiting a loooong time for a second stake so it was wonderful news indeed. Now they are hoping we’ll be more on track for a Norway temple!

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Can you find me singing in the choir?

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Finally ran into Sister Jessica Taylor! (She’s a sweet girl from my ward back in Vegas serving her mission here in Norway) 

Since the night train arrived in Oslo at 7am and the first conference meeting wasn’t scheduled to start until 5:00 that evening, I had a lot of time to kill running around exploring Oslo.

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The Royal Palace

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The Viking Ship Museum

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 Chris in a few years.

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I’ve been wanting to see this in person since I was a wee one.

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Tribute to my all-time favorite Doctor Who episode.

Hello Month! How did you pass by so fast??

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