Tuesday, September 2, 2014

we meet again, Iceland

(((it's taken me exactly two weeks of being back home to curate this blog. it was really hard for me to start it. every time I think about working on it, it felt like a major endeavor- like an extremely messy room that you don't want to clean up so you just let it keep piling up but you have this major burden of doing it on your shoulders and it's the only thing on your to-do list that you haven't even dared to wrestle with. It's a month of chaos, emotions and many words- and many many photos…but a couple days back it hit me that it would just be selfish not to tackle it.
so here goes….something…)))

"We meet again" I said as I looked out the window of the plane being greeted by a tremendous rainbow  as I land back on Icelandic soil. I bet the people next to be were happy to never see me again as we got off the plane- I kept asking them to get up with a almost-too-nice-push-over attitude feeling terrible about asking them to get up so many times (after all I did have a window seat in a row of three) I had to use the restroom, or needed more tissues to blow my nose. Having a window seat with a fever isn't exactly ideal but when I booked the ticket I imagined glancing out the window, seeing this magical land up from above for the second time. When I entered the airport I exchanged my Swedish currency and tried to find any Icelander that had a phone so I could call Tinna.  I picked up some asian trail mix, restocked my tissues and booked my 45 minute cozy bus ride to Reykjavik.

When I arrived into the city I saw Tinna out the big bus windows feeling so eager hug her! We quickly scrambled through questions like "how are you" and "how was your trip" neither of being able to talk fast enough. She had just come back from Spain that morning at 4 am, so that made two of us who hadn't sleep in over 24 hours. The next hours were filled with a visit to an Elderly home, a grocery store visit and a veggie soup experiment. After our stomachs were filled with vegetable goodness and good conversation, Tinna left for work and I went to bed at 7 pm. I woke up at 7 am the next morning thinking "did I only sleep like 15 minutes!?!?" until I realized it was morning. It was almost as similar to when drunken souls wake up and they think "where am I!?!". I went back to sleep till 10 am thanking the Lord for the glamorous rest he provided (it was a miracle I slept 12 hours straight when I could barely breathe through my nose).  Tinna arrived by the time I woke up and we caught up and talked about our blessings and meant-to-be's and then she went back to work. I had another bowl of that crazy soup- even better the second time and rested until night where I took the bus alone to meet with my friend who had a birthday that day. We only hung out an hour because the buses stop running just before midnight.

When I woke up on Friday morning, eight young hearted souls came to pick me up for a  two week trip to the south of Iceland where we would get on a ferry to travel thirty minutes to an Island with the population of 4,000 for an outreach to a music festival that had been in tradition since 1874. With 4 Americans from all over, 1 Englishman and a car full of Germans behind us questions filled up me, as usual as I just wanted to know everything about everyone. Learning that everyone was some kind of  creative and sought out adventure- I thought to myself that this will be an interesting 13 days.

We arrived on land of the Vestmannaeyjar we headed to the retro church where we would make home and lay our heads each night. The next week was filled by a wholesome week of prayer, primary colors with major touches of green, worship, sweaty sleeping bags, violent raindrops in the middle of the night, intruders & God protection, quiet mornings, warm gathers, bon fires as big as houses, divine meetings followed by underground skate parks and photoshoots , much ice cream, meekness, visions & poetry, birds at flight, silent white buildings with vibrant window pains,  hiking on top of volcanoes, good food, prophetic words, laughs, explorations, art making and getting more familiar with the Island as well as with each other.
Journal Entry July 27th 2014; "it's so amazing here. Everyone is so lovely and gentle"

Then welcomed the outreach where moments were harder than the week before- for me and maybe for us. God was speaking so much to me and through me but sometimes He just has to break you a little for an initial breakthrough. I think it was a time to see variety, a time to work on that little part of your heart that comes up in the worst of times and a time for rest.
The morning after the outreach was (one of) my favorite times as groups of three of us went out to hand out coffee to the long and hung over "Q" or line waiting to get on the boat. I talked and genuinely laughed for the first time in days and felt so happy. Serving people in such a way brightened my day fully as I saw people being eternally grateful for the half cup of coffee and 3 drop of milk. The next days, before leaving the island was more of a celebration time as we honored of 3rd birthday we had in the last 2 weeks. Leaving the island was a bittersweet feeling. Leaving the island was leaving something special behind.

Journal Entry July 30th 2014: 
"…soon after I walked into a beautiful underground vortex of kids- sipping on hard cider and subconsciously getting high on spray paint fumes- skating & creating. I was in this room and the long brown haired kid introduced me to almost everyone and I heard him from afar saying "this is Jessica, I just met her" over and over.
I stood there observing each wall as the Iceland beauties observed me
I made conversation because I had no other choice 
It was just like a movie- or maybe it was ME getting subconsciously high on the fumes
cozy, calm and electric are words I would use to describe this creative space with good melodies 
coming out of the who-knows-where speakers of this underground 
I launched myself for I was accepted
I left this imaginary but real space questioning "was that real?" piecing together the puzzle of my quickly answered prayer"

When I got back to Reykjavik, seeing Tinnas house was the best thing that could happen. I was alone there for awhile before her, her mother or sister arrived (after all, they told me this was my house whenever I am in Iceland!) Tinna came home hours later after I had rested and unpacked. We talked of recent crazy moments and struggles- the way God is working in our lives contrasting with our fleshly weakness". We always have the best conversations. That night she invited me to her families dinner where we had a beautiful steak and amazing vegetable salads and side dishes. Her family was big, bright and beautiful. They invited me to stay with them the following weekend to a summer house in the wide open nature of Iceland- I gratefully accepted.
The days before the camping trips were filled with rest, "spanish chicken, hanging out in the national museum after closing hours, happiness, pure and honest conversation, Indian food, light rain, and  heart configuration and why we have walls. I bought a book called "ripples from Iceland" which was written in the 40s-70s about an American girl who met an Iceland man in college and they now live in Iceland- basically an American point of view of living in Iceland. It's pretty cool, I'm still reading it- slowly.

Journal Entry August 10th 2014
"You can learn something from everyone, really- e v e r y o n e. If you open your heart up for it. After a very delicious dinner and vegan banana/date cafe Tinna and all of the youth in her extended family went out to play football (soccer, for you Americans) but never being the "sports-y" or games type of person, I gently declined as did Giuli, an Argentian beauty- so we sat on the couch together quietly and contently reading a book. Eventually I put on my shoes to watch the little football squad when Giuli asked me if I would join her for a walk. Something in me always wants to say no but then the other half of me always screams "take the experience!!, so I did. As we headed for the hills to catch the pink and orange sunset and my white converse completely plummet into the red mud- Giuli and I laugh and talk about our experiences in Iceland vs our home lands, our relationships and what we think about various things about life, learning and love. It ended up being such a great time.
Tonight I learned that I was to be more open, like Giuli, just to invite total strangers (or friends of friends) on a walk that might last hours into the nature that might lead to a life lesson, new knowledge or even simply a new friendship."

Back in Reykavik I had two days to "do things" before we would leave for a 8 hour car ride to the East of Iceland with friends, many stops and beautiful views. So I basically just hung out with friends I had met in Iceland the first time…which was AWESOME. I had so much fun hanging out and exploring the small city and getting to know each other even deeper. Crazy things happened in this time as well like falling down a flight of stairs--but I don't talk about this for now. I felt the presence of God move in so many different ways.

August 12th was the early morning we left for Visbo- a retreat for the youth group Tinna was leading. The road trip was awesome, passing hundreds of waterfalls (even being able to walk behind one!), electric mossy landscapes, ice glaciers, winding roads,  plateau mountain scales, rivers, volcanic rock, oceans, bridges and islands!

Concluding for now, because telling you about Visbo would be WAY too long-.  Visbo was the most touching experiences I had in Iceland. I got to meet 20ish of the most amazing young souls on this planet. I felt like God gave me His eyes (or part of them) for the week to see these kids the way He saw and created them. Each one of them being a soon-to-discover artist, writer, musician or just any kind of creative. Every day was a new adventure of mud fights, water fights, river jumpings, berry picking, cafe nights, silly games, stronger friendships and SO much laughing. On one of the lasts night mornings, I woke up to the leaders serving the kids breakfast in bed which gave me tears as I witnessed the most beautiful service and hospitality. That same night the boy of the group put on a special dinner for the girls which was the most precious thing ever, they took their orders, brought their food, make them laugh, and simply cared for them. Constantly I was filled with joy- even in the weirdest of times like randomly waking up at 3 am and just being full of giggles with Tinna. Literally I have never been so touched watching humans be so kind to other humans because they WANT to. So many thing happened this week, especially in the lives of the teens but most importantly I got to experience so much Icelandic culture and language- being the only native English speaker to the fullest.  I also got to dig up some new talents like public speaking.

Journal Entry August 14th 2014
"In my childhood I've never experienced such a thing" I said as the path ended and we had no other option than to walk a quarter mile in the pure wild- sharp grass scraping our little legs. The bigger steps I took the better it was, but every now and then me and my sandal would sink down into a BIG patch of mud and I would semi sink- but it was alright, it was new. I lead the way of the left over group that was hanging behind. We were headed for the mud pit! Then Tinna said "hey look to the left, I think those are blue berry bushes" and little did I know we were surrounded by an endless sea of blueberries. Never did I ever see so many FREE and FRESH blueberries other than in the super market marked always 3.99 or if you were lucky, 1.99 on sale but still there was never that many. "I'm coming back tomorrow and picking as many as my hands and buckets can hold!" I said over and over with pure excitement overtaking every part of me. We trekked on step by step and scratch by scratch with purple stained hands as we heard faint giggles in the distance realizing we made our way to the mud pit. Behind the tall grass, teenagers were laughing and shrieking as they threw mud at one another. I sat an watched  because thoughts and photos keep me quite busy. I've always been that in-the-moment-out-of-the-moment type of person if you know what I mean. I loved it, every minute of it. On the way back we crossed streams in bare feet, talked of our childhood and let the honesty bleed from our veins.

Tinna and I spent our last moments together with nutella sandwiches and freshly made coffee our way back to Reykjavik, taking the North route, having complete the circle of Iceland We stopped in awesome towns like Akureryi, listening to Asgeir a unhealthful amount of times and having a little "hitchhikers ministry" where we gave out sandwiches and cookies to random hitch hikers along the 8 hour journey.

Journal Entry August 19th 2014 // Boston, USA
There is something charming about not being able to understand the majority of the language around you, not being able to read every text in front of you, to not know where you are going because you simply don't understand…but now I'm back on American soil and I understand every inch of everything and suddenly it's all so foreign…maybe I'm not ready for this…well, here goes a new chapter, challenge and chase.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jess! This is Margaret - green bobble-hatted hitcher you picked up in the middle of nowhere and took to Akureyri. I wanted to thank you 2 again for the ride, good chat, food, and the book. Hope you're doing well, wherever you are xx