Thursday, July 10, 2008

Homeward Bound

Leaving Nordtun didn’t really hit me at all until I had gone to Sorarnoy, gone to Germany and was finally on the plane from London to Chicago. Seven hours and 45 min. seemed unbearable. I was so excited to finally return somewhere where everyone speaks English, where signs are in English…I was excited to return back to America. My first experience in Chicago was not the best since we accidentally went to the wrong terminal, almost missing our flight to Indy. It was a huge relief running up to the gate and seeing that no one had even started boarding.
Flying, watching a huge lightning storm a couple miles out on the horizion, it was so beautiful, I was so ready to just land, get my bags and go home. Upon arriving at Indianapolis Intl. we found that 4 out of 5 bags were still in London…good welcome home surprise...
A week later I finally received my last bag, the man who brought the bags was nice but it was always a disappointment to find that he only had one bag at a time. Other than that little mishap, being home has been great. Seeing old faces, going to the skate park, climbing almost everyday, and I now have two jobs. I have been working on a farm everyday and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I work at the climbing gym putting up new climbs and working with the youth club a little bit.
I have an upcoming meeting with the mission’s board at my church talking about my trip and two others who have recently returned from Africa. I have talked to the youth pastor a little but unfortunately I haven’t really connected with the Church as well as I should have. I have had some trouble with keeping my quiet time. It has been really hard working all the time, hanging out with people who always want to see me…its been hard. Nate came into town for the 4th of July and spent the weekend here. It was a great time of laughing, climbing talking about “Old Times” and one afternoon we had the chance to talk to Mad. It was almost like the old crew was back together…One day we will all have the chance to see each other again. I hope sooner rather than later...
Now I am still waiting for the “OK” to return to Tibet from Karl and then I will apply for my visa. As of right now it looks like I will be here a little longer than September but I am still pumped to go back. I just hope that with the Olympics everything will die down. I am praying that when I send in my visa application that it will be done quickly so that I can return…
Please keep this process in your prayers and pray that God helps keep me strong in this time. Please pray that God will give me rest at night and health. I have been getting more and more tired but everything is still going great. Thanks for all of the support you all have given me.
God Bless

Friday, May 16, 2008

Closing in on a New Begining

Well we have finished all of our teaching, all of our outdoor trips, all our local and mini outreaches. We have gone to Tibet and some to Greenland, we have meet hundreds of people, learned new things everyday, found how to live closer with God and how to live close with those who love God as well. I have become a friends and family with a whole lot of strangers, I have found myself as a stranger as well. I am a different person now and through many teachings and times of self searching I am now begining to find out who I am.

We are wraping up now, we have one week of debriefing left, a time where we can reflect with others on all of the things in which we have soaked up this year...all the things that we have learned and had chances to put into practice. It is amazing to me how this nine months has gone by so incredibly quickly. Looking forward nine months seemed like such a long time to be away from home, family and friends but now looking back it just seems like yesterday when I arrived and took the 4 hour car ride here to Engavågen, it seems like yesterday when we took our first outdoor trip, had our first week of teaching, went on our first local outreach to Sørarnøy, a small island with many AMAZING people...seems like just yesterday traveling around for Christmas, going to China/Tibet, celebrating easter with good friends, it all seems so close yet in another way it seems like I have know all these people for so long. We all know how to cope with one another, we all know when someone needs space or someone need a hug or someone need to talk...returning home to what used to be familiar will be so strange. All those people I know back home have changed, have moved on in life...I have changed.

I could keep rambling on and on but let me see if I can finish telling about the final part of my time here. Last week we had our last outdoor trip. We drove (partialy drove and took 3 fairy's) down south to a small town where we went to a small camping place with a cabin, no doors or heating but a roof over our heads. We spent the evening at the local indoor pool practicing rescueing fliped kayak's, we practiced getting out of flipped boats and so on. The next day we took another fairy to an island surrounded by 1000's of other islands. We put on our wet suits and paddled for a couple hours to where we set up camp on a very small island. There was one house on the island, a small family who spend most of there time collecting a special type of bird down and they make blankets and sell for 40,000kr each (7961,92 US). The next day we paddled back to the cars and took once again another fairy to a beautiful island called Lovund. We had a super nice spot, a big field that was soft and flat, beach on one side and boulders all over on the other side. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!! The only downside of this trip was that we had to wake up at 430am so that we could catch the fairy to go home...with the sun now not going down, having light 24/7 it messes with your mind, but it is incredible...

Finally I just want to inform everybody that I have been talking a little bit with my contact in Tibet and the plan is to work for the summer, get a visa and return to Tibet in September. Pray that God will open the doors wide so that I wont have trouble getting a visa and pray also that the school in Tibet will become registered this year so that I can go back....

Well I look forward to talking and shareing my stories and adventures with everyone when I return home...untill then

God Bless

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tåkeheimen Trip

One of our last outdoor trips was here, it was hiking up to a small cabin called Tåkeheimen which is located 200 meters under the top of the largest mountain top in the area. I was incredibly unmotivated to go on this not sure why, everyone else was so enthusiastic about it...on the first part of the hike I was talking with Sofia and she prayed with me about the hike and a couple other things. Throughout the journey to the top she would periodicly ask me "Nick hows your modivation..." and I found it getting better and better. Reaching the top, reaching this "Number 1 rated cabin to go to in Norway" the view was breathtaking, it was so incredible. We were above many mountians, above the fjords, right next to the Svartisen Glacier. I couldnt belive how great it was to be up there with good friends. We spent the rest of the day...resting since it was a pretty crazy hike, but the following day we had two segments of teaching. The first segment Lance gave us a homework assignment and that was to go out into the snow, have fun like little kids and set aside all worries. Set aside anything that your thinking about and just HAVE FUN. What an amazing day. We went body sleding, played king of the mountian, did so much and it was so great doing all of this with such incredible friends. Laughing, joking, shoving, sliding, sliping, falling...all things we did and all things in which we felt like little kids...what a great day!!!
That evening we had a time of worship and Lance continued his teaching about Gods love. After the powerful evening of teaching we just hung out inside the cabin. It is so strange because before we left for outreach, light outside would start 11 am and get dark around 1 pm. Sometimes we didnt even have that much light and now it gets light outside at 5 am and it gets dark around 1130 pm. The days are so much longer and now we dont want to go to bed, it seems like its only 9 pm when acctually it is 11 pm. Light really plays with my mind but it is so beautiful.
Thursday we hiked up almost to the top...Mother Nature wouldnt allow us to go anyfurther up because of the wind and dangerous snow drifts but almost to the top we had an incredible view. We split up into four groups and did our own worship and after twenty or thirty min. my team joined up with another group, and we started yelling at the other two groups that had joined..."We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus how about you?" and after a couple min of yelling back and forth both sides started marching towards each other, snowball flying through the air, people wrestling, it was like a movie. I wish I could have recorded it. Luckly I can play it back in my mind but it was great. Following the epic worship battle, we started our decent back down to the cabin, however unlike the slow, hard hike up we just slid. Some slid on there backs, some on there bags and I got the idea to slid on my stomach...I was flying downhill passing most people. Finally coming to a halt I looked back up and people were scatterd all over the mountian side on a pretty steep slope sliding. All laughing and having fun some of us did it again...another great day.

Friday, May 2nd was my birthday. I woke up to everyone in the cabing singing happy birthday and a bowl of oatmeal ready for me. After breakfast we sat around the cabing for a while and then we left and started our journey back down the mountian. People kept asking me so, how is your birthday going. I have never had such a brilliant view on my birthday. I have done some fun things but I have never had that view before. Arriving back home we spent the remainder of the day hanging out, in the evening we went down the road to one of the staffs houses and we had brownies and ice cream. We were standing around and I was playing the guitar for a bit and then all of the sudden they started singing happy birthday for the fourth time. Then everybody wanted me to do a birthday not so good at speeches but I did my best...this is definantly a day that will be in my memories for the rest of my life.
That evening we watched "The Office" untill 130 am and now today I am a bit on the tired side but its okay...Now were planning for a party tonight for some guests we have here at the base, and also for my birthday so tonight should be a great night as well but on top of all this I have been talking with my parents and base leaders about future plans. Please continue to pray for me, and pray that God helps provide clear guidance. Thanks so much

God Bless

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mini Outreach and More

Lars, Line and I left for Sorarnoy again...this time just us, no leaders, and not only for a weekend but for a week. We were incredibly excited as always! We love going to Sorarnoy, the people are so friendly and hospitable, they care for you and want to do things for you...We arrived and Gjermund who on the previous Mini Outreach (in the fall) his side was hurting and it turned out that his appendix had exploded but he was okay, he just had to have it removed. Anyways he picked us up at the dock, it was great to see him again, it had been since before Christmas since we had seen him last. We drove a whole 5 min to his house and sat and had coffee and just caught back up on the past 3 months.
Through out the week we worked in the school teaching the kids in their English, German and Religion classes. I think the best class was when we had a chance to teach the kids about Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism. For being a little younger age they paid attention very well and had incredible questions. The English and German classes were great as well. We also had several days where we helped Gjermund and his father out around the garage (they own a huge garage, they have cattle, horses, lots of land and lots of work to do...) we helped doing yard work, cutting down trees and piling it. Gjermund and I put up a fence...well we almost finished it but on our second day of working on it, it was cold and rainy so we decided to call it a day and just go home. We did landscaping work and much more...
Along with all the work (which was great!) we got to shoot Gjermunds gun, ride horses in which I found that if all else fails I will go be a rodeo rider...I was getting used to riding the horse, pushing my luck a little bit riding faster than I should have been but oh well. The horse started bucking and aparently the others thought I was "For sure going to fall" but I didnt, I held on and rode the horse to the middle of the ring. I felt like a cowboy, it was GREAT!!!
Leaving Sorarnoy, God just keep showing our team how much he cared for us and how much he wants to help us. God has provided many times and he has provided in a time of need again...He is such a GREAT God. Coming back to Nordtun we had a week of teaching about Missions, it was a really nice week to have because unanswerd questions that I had were answerd, It was great getting to talk to the couple, John and Ellen who have been Missionarys in India for 9 years. It was great getting to hear their stories and here about struggles that they went through. I think that it was really good timing for this week seeing as how I am planning on going to Tibet...

This past weekend we had DIVE. A weekend youth camp for kids age 13-16 to come to Nordtun (our school) and just have fun, worship, learn about God, talk with us, play instruments, football (european)...many many many other things. It was a really fun weekend but now I am a little on the tierd side. Today we had a free day since we have been busy all weekend so Daniel, Madara and I decided we would go Snowboarding for one last time. It was such a beautiful day, sunny probably 60-70 degrees out, shirt off and just enjoying Gods wonderful nature. Only bummer was the fact that every step you took you sunk. Sometimes to your knee and other times down to my hip in the snow. It was a little frustrating but then I would just turn and look all around, sunny, snow on the ground, fjords and mountians all over the place. I started realizing how fortunante I am to be here with good friends doing what we love...enjoying Gods creation pushing the limit. The ride down wasnt the best since the snow was so wet it just stuck to our boards but it was still an incredible day.
I am really looking forward to going home, seeing friends and family but I am going to be sad when I have to leave here, leave my home here in Norway where there is such beauty in everything. I guess I have to see the beauty in eveything, everywhere...even in the flat lands of Indiana :)
Please continue to pray for me while I work on ways to get back to Tibet or look at other possibilities for a year or two. Please pray that God will help provide a way in which ever way I go. Also please remember all those who are in Tibet and China who are working with the Tibetian people, the disaster, and all of the riots.
Thank you so much...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bridge Swinging

So Lars, the craziest german ever...a good friend here at Nordtun Skole had two of his friends from Germany come and visit. They came to Sorarnoy with us for local outreach and Line and I had the chance to get to know them decently. Martin and Leboo were there names, Leboo spoke okay english, Martin didnt speak so well however they were both very kind and a ridiculous amount of fun to hang out with.

Since the fall Lars and I had been talking about setting up a bridge swing at the bridge about 2 miles away from the base...we had talked about it alot. One night when we were hanging out we decided we would do it when we got back from local outreach, so when we got back the following day Lars, Martin and Leboo left early in the morning while I was still sleeping and set up the swing (I guess not that early but thats besides the point...) anyways after lunch a group of us went out to the bridge and checked it out. Leboo jumped off, then Martin and then my turn had come up...the longer I stood there looking down the more my stomach and head said..."NO DONT DO IT, YOU DONT LIKE FALLING!!!" but my adrenaline junkie side was saying..."YES, YES LETS DO IT..." so I put on my harness and...well you can see by the pictures...It was geat fun and hopefully we will go to another bridge and do it!!!


Monday, April 7, 2008

Life back at Base

Since coming back to base we have had a great week of teaching with a Norwegian guy named Henrick Stromberg. He taught on Worldviews and unfortunantly it is not really a topic that can be covered in 5 days so it was very difficult to get alot out of it but you just have to take out what you can get!!!

After the teaching we packed up again and went on a snowcaving trip. We drove a little less than an hour and on our journey through the mountians we drove through two tunnels. Both tunnels had ice on alot of the road through the tunnel and the first tunnel happend to be quite steep. The car in front of us slowed down as we entered the tunnel therefore we had to slow down so we started sliding on the ice. We stopped the car but we couldnt get going again so we piled out of the van almost falling down sliding on the pure ice below our feet. After 20 min of sliping, sliding and shoveling sand under the front tires we sat on the engine and slowly started uphill once again. We hit a dry spot on the road and all jumped back into the van. A little further uphill we got stuck on ice again and this time it was a little more fun, we started sliding backwards but couldnt stop until the trailer jack-knifed. Again we all piled out of the van and did the same thing as before however it wasnt working...after a while of failing Øystien (the base leader) came down with chains for the tires, instead of all getting back in the van we had to walk out of the tunnel. (about 3/4 mile uphill).
Getting to the parking lot we unloaded all our bags and cross country skiied to our spot where we dug our snowcaves. We split up into teams of 4 or 5 and dug for hours and hours. Basicly there was a almost vertical wall of snow that had been blown by the wind onto the side of a hill, we dug a tunnel straight into the wall for aobut 5 or 6 feet then dug out a rounded room where we slept on both sides of the walkway. In order to stay warm we made the entrance lower than where we were may not seem like it would be warm but it was quite warm! I stayed nice and warm all nights but the last and that was because I was damp and my sleeping bag was damp but it wasnt unbearable it was just definantly uncomfortable. We took two ski trips one of which was just getting used to ski's and the second was a 14 killometer trip to a small "Gamma" (small cabin that looks like a Tipi but is made out of wood and has soil so it looks very earthy) was a great trip but I definantly like being on a snowboard much more than on ski's.

After coming home from the trip I had to pack the following day to go to Sorarnoy, my local outreach that I went to all fall. It was so great to see all those who I had meet and started relationships with. The kids...sorry "youth" were very excited to see all of us, and I think it was the same for us as well. Friday evening we had an idea to do an easter egg hunt since we had missed easter but we used hot dogs instead. We put 20 hot dogs in plastic bags and scattered them all over the island and we split the group into two and gave each group a paper with clues as to where the hot dogs were. We gave the two groups an hour to find as many as they could and then they had to meet us up on a hill. When they arrived we had a fire roaring and we all talked and laughed while roasting the hot dogs. Following the feast we had we went to the gym hall and set up a projector and showed the youth pictures of Tibet. It was such an awsome weekend and next week we get to go for the whole week to help out in the school and do what ever we can to help out the community.

Please pray that we continue to build the relationships with the youth and familys on the island. Also pray that they will trust us and talk with us like they did before we left for the winter.
Please keep in mind the whole situation in Tibet as is still not a good situation and if this keeps on going I will have trouble getting back to do the work God has called me to do...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

End of Christmas Break untill Now...Short Summary

Well, where to begin my story...After Christmas our Discipleship Training School team met up about an hour outside Oslo, in a small town called Stange. We had a "Workers Gathering'' in which we had meetings, sermons, worship and a good time preparing for our outreaches. After a week, the Greenland team left in the middle of the night and myself and seven others left in the middle of the next day. We took a train to Oslo airport and after multiple delays, six hours after the first departure time we boarded our plane destined for Helsinki, Finland. Arriving in Helsinki really late, our flight to Bejing had already left. The airport set us up with a reservation to the Ramada Hotel in downtown Helsinki and so our trip started off well. A very nice hotel, touring Helsinki the following day and at 8pm we headed back to the airport.

Arriving in Bejing, I realized how much I had missed Asia. The traffic was crazy, people everywhere, GREAT FOOD and just the culture in general. We spent a few days in Bejing and then boarded a train to Xining, a smaller city of 2 million people twenty four hours away. We didn't know who would pick us up at the station but we had our team and we had a God who is bigger than any problem. After standing outside the station in the freezing cold we saw two foreigners walking our way. It turned out to be two ''M''s (in China we had to be extremely careful of what we said). Anyways, we went to their house and had the chance to meet quite a few missionaries. The fellowship was amazing, getting to see how close to God they were was great. After spending a couple days in Xining we took a 2 hour bus ride to a very small town called Rigamoo, our first interaction with Tibetians. All around us were men and woman who were wearing ''Chubas'' which are robe-like garments that are very traditional. Motorcycles everywhere, goats, yaks - it looked like a farm town. We continued our journey further away from everything, another 45 min ride and then we arrived at the School that Kalson Gerogg (a Norwegian guy with a huge heart for the Tibetian people) started. Kalson has been out there in Tibet by himself (only foreigner) for 13 years. We helped teach an english camp for three weeks. Life out there is amazing: no showers, no running water, no toilets, not much heat inside, etc. Since there are no trees, yak dung is the main source of heat. It actually doesn't smell as bad as you think it would.

After the english camp we had a chance to split up and go into the Tibetian homes and experience 3 days of family culture. The Tibetian people are incredibly hospitible. The have so little yet they give so much; they constantly give you food to eat and constantly fill up your tea bowl. They just stand and smile at you. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences I have had. I dont understand how such a beautiful people, such a loving people, such a caring people can be so blinded. They are lost, stuck in all they know which isTibetian Buhddism. On the surface it looks like a ''peaceful" religion but after hearing stories and talking to people, I realized it is such a dark religion. There is so much that not even the monks know, that not even many of the llamas know.

The only thing that I know for sure is that every day in Tibet I longed to stay more and more. Every day I became more and more attached to these people. I prayed to God for a sign if I was to stay in Tibet or not. I had the chance to visit some of Kalson's friends and on the way we visited the 2nd largest monastery. While in the monastery, I couldnt speak - I was in shock. I couldnt belive how these people could be prostrate over and over again. I couldnt belive how lost they were. I was walking and looked at this old Tibetian lady and she looked like there was nothing, nothing in her soul...she looked like she wanted something but she just didnt know what. After leaving the monastery, I felt that God had CLEARLY spoke to me to go back. Every time I look back on pictures of the kids and of the people, my heart longs to go back and share God's word with them. I have been making plans to go back in September and work long- term. I really appreciate all of the prayer and finacial support and I ask that you contiue to pray for me and the decisions that I will be making in the near future. I also ask that you pray for practical things such as money and Visa application approval.
Thanks you very much

After outreach came to an end I had to think about what I was going to do for my easter break...Lars and I ended up going to Anetta (a girl who did her DTS 3 years ago...and visited us in the fall) along with 5 others. The other five left on St. Patricks day and Lars and I had the chance to stay longer, what an amazing family! Her family was so great, giving us a place to crash and eat and stay warm...we even were there for her fathers 50th birthday party. That was fun...seeing as how Lars and I have been traveling for the past almost three months we had the same permenantly dirty clothes while everyone else had on nice dress clothes. That evening definantly had its akward moments but it was fun nevertheless. After staying for two and a half more days Lars and I took a train to Oslo to meet up with a fellow YWAMer named Don. After being on the train for almost 30 min, no one had come for us to pay so we got all excited because we were going to get a free ride, then after getting all excited the lady showed up but things just got better...she told us that her machine had gone on vacation early so we ended up having a free ride anyways.
Arriving in Oslo we had a great day with Don eating Kababs and free oranges from his hotel. We saw some famous parks, and went to an Art Museum...ha I never thought I would find myself in one of those. After a great day we finished it off by watching "Walk the Line" at Don's hotel. (If you havent watched it and your a Johnny Cash have to watch it!!) We took the midnight train to the Oslo airpot and crashed there for a couple hours and took the 845 am flight to Bodo. It was a wierd feeling flying into the Airport that I first met everyone at. From the airport Lars and I took a cab to the Fastboat/Bus Station, we stood outside because the station was closed. We had called and they told us that there was a 1230 bus so we trusted them but it seemed wierd since the station was closed but what else could we do since neither of us had a phone...
around 1145 Arslan (staff at the base) and a guy that we had stayed with before chirstmas showed up randomly looking for a friend and they told us that there wasnt a bus or boat untill staturday (it was only thursday!) so just another instance where God provided something that we needed. We had a great time staying with Bord and Marloo (The couple in Bodo), watching movies, relaxing and going snowboarding. Well Saturday came and after a two hour boat ride we finally made it back to was INCREDIBLE being somewhere where there was familiarity...being able to unpack my bag was amazing as well...
The past two day a couple friends and I went back country skiing/snowboarding...the first day we didnt go all the way up the mountian and it got cloudy but the second day was a great day. It was sunny the whole day, we made it up the mountian in two and a half hours instead of four hours, and the top half of our run was for the most part on untouched powder, what an amazing feeling! I am addicted and I want to go again but right now my legs wont let me, two days of hard hiking in a row...ouch.
Anyways school started back up again last night and it is nice having teaching again. Time where we can sit down and get back to the basics and just learn. Time to not have to think so much but take in information and it is cool to see how much I have learned in the past 3 months. I am excited to get back to my everyday life at the base...
I am going to put my photos onto a flickr account since I can only put 4 or 5 on here so feel free to check out...
Sorry it has been so long since I have updated but I will do better now that I am back at base...Please keep on praying for me

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ending and Beginning

I have been here in Latvia, a ex Soviet Union country...the feeling here is depressed but Madara and her family have no sign of depression. Some of the kindest people I have met. We have stayed in a small 2 bedroom apartment. Madara's mother sleeps on the couch in the living room and Ilza (one of Madara's sisters) let Nate and I sleep in her room while she shared a room with Anna (another sister) and Madara. Even though we are living in tight quarters there has been no complaints or I said one of the nicest family's that I have meet.

Our short 5 days here has flown by as we have wandered the city, seeing a lot of very beautiful architecture. We spent our first big day going to a city about an hour away. We meet one of Mad's good friends Rodolf (we called him Ro). He took us through this old hospital that was being built by the Soviets when they controlled Latvia. The Soviets never finished the hospital so now it is just another abandoned building. We also went into an old watertower that is going to be torn down within the next couple of months.

The most fun time I have had here in Latvia was our New Years Eve. We went across town to Madara's friends house. There were about 10 of us, all of Mad's friends were so kind to us, not knowing a ton of English, speaking to us, hanging out with us and not just going off talking to there friends. We walked to the local park right before midnight and all had a great time watching the fireworks going off in every direction. Spending New Years with family across the globe, knowing that I was in 2008 and my family was in 2007 was a very interesting feeling. Well we walked back and spent the rest of the morning playing fun games (some of the guys worked at the local YMCA and were big climbers so they knew a lot of team building games and fun climber type games) which Nate and I enjoyed alot....

Yesterday was great to, we meet up with Maritzs (a guy from New Years Eve) and he took us through an old Soviet Bunker. It was really cool wandering underground, in the complete dark with my headlamp batteries dying. We wandered the underground maze for probably 30 mins and when we reached the surface again I was very happy that I was not living here during any wars.

I could ramble on and on but to sum this Christmas break up...IT WAS AMAZING, strange being away from family and friends but I could not have asked for anything else. I am headed back to Norway this evening to have several days of meetings, getting ready for Tibet and then on the 7th or 8th I am headed off to Tibet. Please continue to pray for not only me, but the team I will be going with along with the team going to Greenland. I will do my best to keep you updated but I am not sure how much computer access I will have.