Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Norway: Week One

Well, it’s been one week since I left the US, and about time for an update of some sort. There’s no way I could write about everything, so, instead, here are a few sketches and anecdotes:


I’ve settled into my new apartment, and still can’t believe I’m living here for the next year! I’m in a 1-bedroom walk-up just off of Bogstadveien—one of the great shopping streets in Oslo. It’s about halfway between Frognerparken, in which Vieglands-parken is situated (pictures later, I promise), and the Slottsparken and Dronning-parken surrounding the Royal Palace. It’s also an easy walk to church, and, well, just about anywhere. But it’s also really close to bus-lines, trikk-lines (think trolly), and the T-bane (think subway). The apartment is incredibly cute and well-stocked, with 2 grocery stores and a 7-eleven within a ½-block radius. One of these days I’ll upload some pictures for you.

Prices in Norway

While I have settled into my apartment, I haven’t yet settled into the prices of things in Norway. When I visited in 2003 I was extremely spoiled by my Uncle Buv and Aunt Janell who met Kim and I here, and their friend Helge too. I don’t think Kim and I paid for a thing. And I’m still extremely spoiled this time, don’t get me wrong!

But, I walked into a bookstore today to pick up the first Harry Potter book in Norwegian, turned the book over to check the cost, gulped, and very slowly set the book back down, afraid that I might damage it. The price was 289 Norwegian Kroner, or, almost $50US at today’s exchange rate. If you’re wondering, it was a paperback.

And while I couldn’t quite justify the $50US for the paperback children’s book, I went shopping this afternoon and spent almost the equivalent on, well, let’s just say not a lot of food: 239.90 NOK.

On the other hand, being able to walk into the grocery store and buy geitost (yummy, yummy brown cheese that makes my toast say ‘yay!’), flatbrøt (flatbread), lefse, and rømmegrøt (mmm…) is quite lovely!

But, just in case you decide to come and visit me, let me know and I’ll email you a grocery list!

American Lutheran Congregation—Oslo, Norway

And, of course, the congregation that is taking me under its wing for the year!

I don’t even know where to begin!

I have been taken care of so well this last week and profusely thank ALC-Oslo for their hospitality. From the moment I stepped through the doors at the airport with my bright green suitcases, members of the congregation have been there to help me find my way, to feed me the most scrumptious meals, and share begin to share with one another our stories.

For these first two weeks members of the congregation have signed up to share dinner with me, to introduce me to Oslo, to take me to events, and to make sure that I get settled in. Having already spent time with many members of the congregation by Sunday morning’s services, I felt quite at home assisting, and have never heard a congregation answer “we will!” with such enthusiasm when asked if they would support me and pray for me this year. Pastor Kienberger, my supervisor, and his family have been wonderful, and I’m so excited to learn and grow and share in this setting!

We’re still figuring out my areas for this coming year, but we have a preaching schedule ready for the fall, there’s a violin and banjo rehearsal set for Thursday, and my first newsletter article is written and handed in.

It’s going to be an exciting year!

Measure twice, cut once... or something like that

And last, but not least! While this story may not make you laugh, it certainly made me laugh:

So, the musical group I’m in back home has gone through many names over the past two years. In Summer Greek, Ben & Jon decided that we should be called Sinaiticus—yes, after the 4th C. Greek codex, and if you don’t know what that is, that’s a good thing, and if you do, well, no offense, but you might be a little bit geeky.

In the year following Summer Greek Renee and I tried our best to come up with a new name, but to no avail, and when the first real ‘gig’ that required a name came along, we came back to Sinaiticus.

At least, that was until after the posters came out. About that time, Ben came up with a great new name: Avderling. We printed Avderling on our CDs and drove off to Nebraska.

Upon our return to school, Hanne, our friend and fellow-student who hails from Norway, well, Hanne very kindly told us that, actually, there was no such Norwegian word as Avderling, and if we had been aiming for Norwegian, we had spelled it wrong, and actually, it was Avdeling.

A bit abashed, we printed new CDs, changed our email address, had the ‘r’ scribbled out of our matching tattoos (just kidding), and became ‘Avdeling’.

A couple of months later Hanne approached us and asked, “Why did you pick ‘Avdeling’ for the name of your group?”—a question we often get—but a question we thought would be more easily explained to someone who grew up speaking Norwegian: “Well,” we said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. John 15:5.”

Hanne looked at us, shook her head, and said, “I was afraid of that…" "You see,” said Hanne going on, “while ‘Avdeling’ does translate into English as ‘branch,’ it doesn’t have anything to do with a tree or a vine in Norwegian. It refers to a branch of a company…”

Um… Yeah…

Apparently it is helpful to check with someone who speaks the language from whence ones proposed group names comes, before one names the group.

But why does this anecdote make it into my very first Norwegian blog?

Well, yesterday, while sitting on the steps of the American Lutheran Congregation waiting for a ride, I happened to glance across the street. Parked on the other side of the street was a white van. I thought nothing of it at first, but then realized that it had a familiar word on the side of it. I racked my brain, but I couldn’t come up with my reason for being familiar with this Norwegian word: it wasn’t close to German, it wasn’t close to French, it certainly wasn’t close to Greek or Hebrew! Yet, I knew that I knew that word.

I stared at it… And stared at it… And stared some more…

Then I burst out laughing.

The word I’d been staring at for the past few minutes was ‘Avdeling.’

Well, I’d better get going, it’s pretty late and my bed is calling. Thanks for all of your prayers and emails and support!

the shoeless seminarian


FrontRowLutheran said...

For those of you who might not know, the Nebraska gig was at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Madison, Nebraska.

And the four musicians (whatever their group's name is) were awesome. YAY!

I'm Still Me said...

There are two beverages that I absolutely LOVED in Norway. They are non-alcoholic and you can find them in with the pops. For the life of me I can't remember their names. Oh, Julebrus only comes out at Christmas. The other is Applejus or something ... but it is a carbonated apple beverage. Give it a try if you'd like!

Marty said...

Love the blog! Didn't know you had one til I checked your facebook update! Glad to read that all is going well. You are held in prayer back here in WI. The candidacy committee sends their prayers and blessings.

Crimson Rambler said...

I shared your email message about taking up the internship post with our Vestry on Monday night. They looked stunned (par for the course)...but you are in our thoughts and prayers!