Posted by: merrymission | December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

We can finally write our Christmas blog and wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We are not late because in Iceland Christmas is from 12 December until 6 January. Instead of Santa Claus they have 13 Christmas trolls that visit children. Over the years there were as many as 80 trolls, but the present 13 Jólasveinarnir are the ones that have survived. They visit, one a day, from the 12th until the 24th of December. Then on the 25th they begin returning and the final one leaves on the 6th of January and returns to the mountains.

Valla's Christmas Trolls

We gave each of our children’s families a troll, made by a lady in Reykjavík, for Christmas to be opened on the day the troll appears in Iceland. We also hungout with them on their day to open their present, which we really enjoyed.  This also extends the joy of giving and opening presents to seven days, not just one.

 

The trolls we sent our children

Once upon a time a long time ago when people were really hungry in December, the trolls were credited when neighbors stole food from one another. Nowadays, they have a better image. They bring children small gifts. If a child has been naughty, he gets a lump of coal or a potato. In previous years the cat or mother would eat the naughty children. Good children didn’t taste good.

 

I asked several people if the trolls still came; they said they do. They bring a small toy or treat. Each child leaves their shoes in their bedroom window with a treat for the troll. Each morning the children are eager to find the present, hoping for the best.

 

On the 24th of December at 6:00 pm the family gathers for dinner, dressed in their best clothes. After a delicious feast they open presents from Santa Claus. The jolly old elf is alive and well in Iceland and also delivers gifts here.

 

The look outside is very Christmasy–lots of beautiful snow. The temperature is moderate, cold enough to keep the snow around and warm enough to be comfortable, generally in the 20’s F. The main problem is the wind. On Christmas day we invited an investigator and the missionaries to lunch with us after church. We ate, the missionaries taught a short lesson, and I took her home. Two and a half hours later when we were wanting to visit a member family who had invited us to dinner, we could not drive out of our road because of the snow drift. Some neighbors and the missionaries shoveled and then drove a pick-up through the drift and we were able to leave. We were also able to return to our own driveway. The next morning we had to shovel again to leave, but have not had any trouble since.

 

Our missionaries are teaching about seven different people, who want to learn but are not eager to be baptized. One mother and daughter, both with health problems, love to visit with us, and feel physically stronger when they read the Book of Mormon. However, one of them is having trouble with the word of wisdom. Others will set a baptism date, but get cold feet as the day approaches. We are beginning to feel that we should help our investigators build a strong relationship with our Savior, and help them see Him and His love for us as the reason to keep the commandments. Hopefully, we can find those who are prepared to love and serve God.

 

Yesterday we drove in the country through snowy back roads with our definitely-city-style car. God was with us and we did not get stuck and we did find the man we wanted to teach. He is a wonderful person who wants to change his life. He reads the Book of Mormon in Icelandic and German to try to understand it better. He reads it for about an hour and a half each morning, sitting with his plants in his indoor greenhouse, under their grow lamp. Most of our lessons are conducted in English, with parts in German (with a friend who is also a member) and Icelandic (with the missionaries). His main question yesterday was–is there a God. We gave him some suggestions, asked him to plant the seed and cultivate it and explained that it takes diligent effort, line upon line and precept upon precept. We are also trying to help him realize how he feels when he feels the Holy Ghost.

 

We are busy with branch members, new members, and investigators. The missionary life is wonderful and the work is energizing.

 

Merry Christmas again to everyone.

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