After exchanging money, buying Siminn SIM cards, and picking up the rental car in Keflavik, we began the drive to Reykjavik. The rental is a small, diesel, manual crossover that “seats” seven people. As we were pulling out of town and Tanner was figuring out all of the controls, he chose this time to tell us that he’s gotten a ticket in every foreign country he’s ever driven in. This came as we were deciding whether it’s acceptable to right turn on red here (it’s not).
We arrived in Reykjavik around 7:00 AM, and, as we discovered, not a whole lot is open at that time in the morning. We drove around for a little while, getting our bearings, then eventually parked and started walking, hoping to find something to eat. We eventually found a cafe that was open for breakfast that also kindly accommodated a thirty minute (power) nap for a few of us.
|Katie enjoys watching the ocean|
From that church building, we made our way to the church we had actually planned to worship with that morning. Honestly, this was one of the parts of the trip I was most looking forward to, after some of the research I had done beforehand. I started Googling for churches in Reykjavik and found this Gospel Coalition article, as well as an article from Christianity Today on the work this pastor and his congregation are doing in this country. I was excited for us to experience a small part of that, and, hopefully, be of some encouragement to this pastor in his work. I contacted him beforehand to make sure we wouldn’t be a distraction, and he welcomed us to come.
We weren’t two steps into the building when I was greeted loudly by an Icelandic man who thrust a small bag with what looked like dried bread chips in it towards me. Having zero idea of the context, I thought this might possibly be communion bread of some sort, picked a piece, and held onto it. A few minutes later we entered the sanctuary and I saw communion bread and juice set out in the front, so my previous assumption no longer held. Figuring it would be weird for me to stand there holding my piece of bread, I went ahead and popped it into my mouth. An incredibly strong fish oil flavor hit me immediately, and I tried not to grimace as I chewed. At that moment, I was also stuck with an empty water bottle. As politely as possible, I excused myself and ran off to find some liquid.
Tanner, meanwhile, had held onto his piece as well, but made the unfortunate choice to try it during the service. I was listening to the message when all of the sudden he taps me on the shoulder and whispers, “That’s nasty!” quite loudly. I quickly shushed him for fear one of the church members would overhear him. He told me later he had grabbed one of the biggest piece because he was hungry. He struggled through the mouthful he had and then gave the rest to Steven, who, of course, loved it. I’m still trying to figure out if this was a friendly gesture or an attempt to haze the Americans (or, perhaps, both).
The service itself was awesome. Meaningful hymns and solid, Biblical teaching. Most of the songs were in English, and they even had a translator who translated the teaching and speaking portions of the service from Icelandic to English for any English speakers, using a separate transmitter and receiver system.
At the end of the service we got the chance to speak with the pastor and pray for him. If you would, please pray for Gunnar and his work in Iceland, and particularly for two of his young children who are struggling with some pretty severe health problems. We have noticed the country of Iceland is a place that seems altogether hostile to the Gospel (addressed in this video by Gunnar and some of his ministry partners), and Gunnar’s congregation are doing their best to share the hope and joy that can be found only through Jesus with their fellow Icelanders.
|Driving in Iceland|
After our grocery run was complete, we set off to find our Airbnb. Despite some less than stellar navigating on my part, we soon arrived. For this trip, we rented a large, second floor apartment that comfortably sleeps seven and (importantly) has two bathrooms. It’s very homelike and cozy, and it was wonderful to be able to come into a warm, welcoming environment, after travelling for almost two days straight. I stretched out on the large rug in the living room for a little while, perfectly content with life.
This morning, Steven and Tanner set out early in the morning to pick up Mike, who had gotten the bus to Reykjavik after his plane had landed. I didn’t think about it until they left, but they had no GPS, or even a way to communicate with Mike. The end result was, I ended up playing the middleman for communication between Mike and Steven, and acting as command and control for remote navigation. It was quite the process, but they were eventually successful in finding him. Steven credits this mainly to his ability to read paper maps (an underrated skill, apparently).
This morning we began our tour of the Golden Circle, a driving route through southwest Iceland, with quite a few amazing sights along the way. We woke up to find that it had snowed the night before, which could only help make this trip better! We planned to leave at 8:30 AM and left at 10:00 AM.
|Golden hour all day long|
|Stupid Americans standing on the wrong side of the rope|
|Notice the rope|
|Rando, myself, Adam, Tanner, Laurel, Mike, Katy, and Steven|
|That's us on the far side!|
|Mike eats it|
|Lake "frozen solid"|
|Steven learns his first 100 Icelandic words|
Tanner and Mike, meanwhile, went into Bonus again to pick up some extra paper towels. When we met them on the way out, Tanner said, “They thought Mike and I were from Iceland, seriously! The cashier started going off in Icelandic! I had to tell him we were Americans, and he apologized and switched to English.” Mike said, “When he started in in Icelandic, I just stood there nodding. I was going to go with it. Then he switched to English, like, immediately. It was crazy!”
|A map including all of our stops for the day|
|We didn't do a very good job with this|