Categories
The Church

New Worship Space

Winter… has arrived! We’re just barely into November and we’re seeing some ice and snow blanket the ground. Should be an interesting scenario for us southern folk. 😉 🥶 🇮🇸

A neighborhood and playground outside of our apartment.

Redeemer City Worship

Meanwhile, the Redeemer City church family has — as of yesterday morning — begun meeting in a public worship space in an area called “Skeifan”!

The Redeemer City church family — in our new worship space!

This area is frequently-traveled, composed of local businesses, and is located somewhat in between Reykjavík and Kópavogur (where we’re currently living). We’re incredibly grateful that the leadership of Redeemer was able to find a space that could comfortably seat our existing members and attendees at a surprisingly affordable cost per month.

It was, we believe, a providential find for two reasons.

  1. Very little in Iceland falls under that category of “affordable” — especially spaces in which people can live or gather. This space can also comfortably seat additional members and attendees as the need arises or for fellowship gatherings and meetings throughout the week.
  2. The timing was just right. The various apartments in which we’ve been meeting from week to week were starting to get a bit cramped for the 15-25 people that were making their way to worship every Sunday morning. Not only was this starting to make worship, fellowship, and conversation a bit challenging, but we also weren’t yet at a position to plant. (Ours is still a young ministry in a country where concepts like ‘small church gatherings’ and ‘planting’ aren’t all that common.)

Questions

Do you all have questions about anything I’ve mentioned thus far — re: the church gathering, church space, living in Iceland, etc.? I’d legitimately love to discuss. We can exchange emails or set up a call or whatever.

Later!

Categories
The Church Traveling

A Few Updates

Apologies for the radio silence as of late!

While there hasn’t been a lot of major things going on, we’ve definitely been keeping ourselves busy! Here’s a quick recap:

  • We finally made it into a longer-term, less chaotic apartment.
  • Heather started Icelandic classes at the University of Iceland*. It’s an intense language to pick up!
  • The girls kicked off their school year (3rd and 6th grade) and they’ve already been making some good friends — from Canada and Russia, no less!
  • ‘Community Group’ with our church family, Redeemer City, got started again and we’ve moved to a weekly schedule. (This is a more informal time to check in with each other and explore a different area of scripture than we do on Sundays.)
  • 2 out of 4 Heydasches tested positive for COVID and we spent about 20 days in isolation. Everybody’s okay though! We had symptoms but we’re thinking the vaccine dramatically lessened the extent to which we were vulnerable. We wrapped up isolation about a week ago… and not a moment too soon. #4Humans #SmallApartment #StirCrazy

We’ll post about a few of these items in a bit more depth in the near future but that’s all we have for now. Just wanted to let you know the routine 40-50 mph winds hadn’t blown us off the island just yet. 😂

Be sure to reach out with any questions you might have!

* By the way, the University of Iceland offers tuition to students at an extremely low cost. It would be an incredible opportunity whether you or someone you know is looking at college post-high school… or just looking to mix things up later in life. And there’s a ton of cool people around. 😉

Categories
Culture

6 Weeks In

A lot has changed in the last 21 months. As hard as it is to believe, it was 21 months ago when we made the announcement we would be moving to Iceland. Time is weird. It feels as if it has been a lifetime since that moment, but also feels like it was just yesterday.

I think it is safe to say 2020 blindsided most everyone and we were no different. It was a hard year and to make it harder, we pushed on towards moving our family to another country, which involved purging most of our belongings, selling things that once brought a sense of security – our cars, our home, just stuff in general. It wasn’t easy and I think it is safe to say it may be one of the hardest things I have done so far in my life. 

But when you feel God moving you in a direction, you move. After a lot of ups and downs and starts and stops, we finally made it here on June 24, 2021.

And Now We Are In Iceland

We are finishing up our sixth week here. My biggest source of anxiety about moving here was how the girls would adjust. Yeah, they are good. In fact, they are doing really, really well. It’s funny, they really didn’t miss a beat. They are playing hard, making friends, and just enjoying life.

I think of the four of us, I am probably having the hardest time adjusting. And it’s bizarre – it’s not the weather or temperature, it’s not the new surroundings or changes in daily life; it’s none of the things I thought would be the hardest. I realized that over the last year and a half I have been so very busy. Busy getting the house ready to sell, busy moving into an apartment, busy packing, busy getting visa applications and school applications in order, busy saying goodbye – just so very busy. And now, all that stuff is done, and I don’t have errands to run or deadlines to meet, or appointments, or activities…

It is the stillness and the lack of activity that has hit me the hardest. I don’t know how not to be busy. And it’s hard.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible has always been Psalm 46:10. 

         He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

                  I will be exalted among the nations,

                  I will be exalted in the earth.”

All last year I felt God telling me to just be still. I felt Him telling me to slow down. I joke that He hurled me to the ground in January 2020 in an effort to slow me down and I just ignored it and barreled on through. But now, here I am, faced with stillness. I am surrounded by beauty and stillness, and I truly believe it is exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment. I believe my heart and life are being prepared for what comes next…whatever that may be.

But Enough About Me…

Here’s where things currently stand with our family…

  • Our visas were approved back in July (sorry, never sent the official update of that info out). That means we are now legally able to stay longer than just three months.
  • We moved…again. We were staying in a great little apartment in downtown Reykjavik, which was perfect when we first got here. It was within walking distance of just about everything – grocery stores, food, shopping, bus stops, etc. However, it was literally steps away from the busiest area in Reykjavik. So, on the weekends, it got loud. Everything was reopening, tourism was picking back up, and woah…from 3:30am until about 6am, it was constant noise outside our windows. Sometimes there was even a random firework or two. Therefore, we are now a little further away from city center.
  • Girls will start school on August 23rd, and I believe we will get to take them on a tour of the school later this week, as well as meet their teachers.
  • I will start school later that same week. (I’m too old for this). FYI, Icelandic is a tough language for a Southern girl from East Tennessee.

We miss our friends and family back home and love hearing from everyone. Please feel free to comment, call, email, text, or however else you wish to communicate with us. 

Categories
The Church

Hey, we’re members of a church!

When you get down to it, and at its very core, there’s something simple and refreshing about being a part of a church family — aka church “membership”.

Toward the end of the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, specifically in vv. 42–47, Luke shares a glimpse of the function, behavior, and duties of the early church:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Yesterday, the other members of Redeemer City Church of Reykjavík voted Heather and me in as members of this church family. It was a special day, to be sure, and we’re immensely grateful and excited to be a part of (for however long we’re able) this cohesive body in Iceland — one that dedicates itself to the proclamation of the Gospel and aligns itself with the teachings of Christ Jesus.

Postscript (kinda).

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, becoming a member of a church simply means that — if you’ll allow me to oversimplify it — you make a covenant with the church’s body (other members), align yourself with a common vision + mission, and hold one another accountable in your various stages of life.

At least that’s how I’d put it based on what I’ve read in the New Testament. And, for further reading, the desiringGod website does a great job of explaining church covenant and its implied biblical context.

Granted, some areas of the modern, Western church — at least from what I’ve gleaned from my own personal experience and the experience of some friends — has transformed church membership into something that oftentimes concerns itself with a lot of rules, voting, and programs rather than cohesion and accountability.

Whatever your experience might be with church membership, Paul offered what I feel is some extremely relevant and helpful advice to the church in Corinth as he closed out his second letter to them: “Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”

— J

Categories
Culture The Church

Redeemer City

Becoming members of Redeemer City

This past Sunday, we had our 3rd worship service at Redeemer City Church of Reykjavik and this coming Sunday, July 18th, Heather and I will be voted on to become official members of the church. This has been a long time coming and we’re extremely grateful to be a part of this church family. (Fingers crossed for a unanimous vote! 😉)

We’re continuing to learn how to acclimate to a different culture and, simultaneously, how to deal with the separation from friends and family — but, rest assured, we’re doing okay!

Here’s the part where I remind you to shoot us a message every now and then. We have the joint account on Instagram, we both still have our same numbers and email addresses, I’m on Marco Polo, and Heather posts on Facebook regularly. (I’m on FB as well but very rarely check it.)

In addition to prayer on that front, we’ll always seek out and welcome prayer for the vision, mission, and purpose of Redeemer City.

And a few random updates

  • We’re hosting a fellowship potluck tonight (July 14th) with the church! It’s our first with Redeemer City and we’re very much looking forward to it.
  • Zoe’s finally losing some baby teeth. She’s lost two since we’ve been up here and a third is on its way out. (Oddly, I’ve lost the same amount… maybe it’s the sulfur in the water. #jk)
  • The plan is for both girls to start school in August (if everything goes according to plan and we’re able to stay).
  • I’m on week three of working remotely… and I was able to cobble together a home office set up that isn’t wrecking my spinal column. (My remote work opportunity is how we’re able to be + stay in Iceland for a little while and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.)
  • And, lastly, we’ve both begun language lessons. It can be a beautiful language but it’s a difficult one to pick up on.

That’s all for now. Comment with any questions!

— J

Categories
Culture Traveling

Feels Like We’re 3,000-ish Miles from Home

Yikes, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve posted. Sorry about that!

We’ve spent the better part of the time since the last update just getting acclimated — to the apartment, to the city, to the absence of family, and, well, to bus transit!

If you’re curious, we landed in a short-term apartment at the heart of Reykjavík. It’s actually a very convenient location to a bunch of different things and we were extremely grateful to be able to find it at an affordable rate.

One interesting note in regard to being so close to ‘downtown’: we’ve learned that typically-reserved or quiet Icelanders take their weekends very seriously. This has made for some — hmm, what’s the best word — vocal nights. 😂 For real, everything is going very well.

The church family that we’ve come to be a part of — Redeemer City Church of Reykjavik (a.k.a., the whole reason we’re here) — has been extraordinarily welcoming and we’re all so grateful for that. I think I mentioned in the last post some of the warmth and hospitality that they have extended to us this entire time… and it’s only continued.

That said, the reports of separation anxiety — about which we were adequately warned going into this endeavor — were not exaggerated. Fortunately, though, we’ve been able to keep in touch with everyone back home via calls, texts, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. The accessibility of technology has been a literal blessing in that regard. And we’re also trying to figure out how to make the space we’re in (for however long) just a bit more like home to help with that whole process.

Heather, by the way, will be following up with a post very soon with some cool news we received — in addition to sharing some of what her and the girls have been up to. (Her update will assuredly be more lively; I’ve personally just been mostly working — remotely, another thing for which I’m so very grateful.)

Oh, and in case we didn’t mention it before either here or in person, we’d love-love-love to hear from you. I think some people have indicated some concern about calling or messaging because they weren’t too sure about the time difference and didn’t want to interrupt us at night or early in the morning or whatever. Others weren’t sure how connected we’d be. Rest assured, we’re good with anytime and we’re very well connected so please call, text, FaceTime, Marco Polo, email, or whatever at any time.

If you’ve just stumbled on the blog, you can send us a message if [a] you’re interested in knowing more about what exactly we’re doing here (also check out the blog intro) or [b] if you’d like to find out about how you could be involved. Better yet, get in touch with the mission or pastoral team within your church and talk to them about coordinating a mission trip to the area. We’d love to see some of you come out, share some meals with you, walk around (and pray over) the city with you, and welcome you to a service at Redeemer City. (We’re meeting in homes for now but there will be a seat for you.)

That’s all I’ve got as of this moment. More to come soon!

P.S. — here are 5 random things I’ve learned while being in Iceland.

  1. They take trash/waste seriously. In other words, if you go out to get some groceries, you’d best have brought a reusable bag with you. (No complaints, by the way; I think it’s awesome.)
  2. Downtown Reykjavík is easily walkable. I love it. I haven’t walked this much since maybe ever.
    • The bus / transit system is extremely reliable. While here, you should just go ahead and grab a Straeto subscription right away.
  3. There’s an IKEA here. Also: IKEA is a wonderland. People tried to tell me that before but I didn’t necessarily believe it. It’s officially one of my biggest regrets now in life.
  4. Pretty much everyone speaks at least a little bit of English and I’ve yet to encounter any linguistic obstacles. However, it is our intent to be mindful residents and immerse ourselves in the native language. That brings me to the last item.
  5. Icelandic is, structurally, a very difficult language. It doesn’t have latin roots like many of the dominant foreign languages so it’s almost impossible to just ‘pick things up’ based on what you know. It’s a brilliant experience to hear people speak it though. I would describe my experience as being delightfully bewildered.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for real now.

— J

Categories
Traveling

We Have Arrived

After a pretty intense week of preparations, we boarded our flight from Knoxville to Atlanta on Wednesday the 23rd. From Atlanta, it was on to Minneapolis and then the long flight to Reykjavík — where we landed the next day.

Once we arrived, several members of Redeemer City Church of Reykjavík greeted us at the airport to take us to the apartment — in which we found a ready-to-bake, home-cooked meal (as well as some pantry and fridge essentials) that those same amazing people (and a few others) had left us. It was an incredibly kind gesture and a very warm welcome into the country.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with unpacking, a much-needed recovery nap from the flights, and a walk around the area.

Today will be some more unpacking/arranging and dinner with the church. First things first, though: must get coffee.

Reassurance

When you’re experiencing the reality of leaving family and friends (all the while unsure of how long that absence will be), it’s easy to get swept up in that reality and maybe even the pure chaos of moving. And we did. There was just so much going on between selling the other car, getting everything out of the apartment, and condensing all of our things + stuff into a few suitcases.

However, on our last morning, we met up with our moms to have breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company. If you’ve ever been, you know that they use answers to different and unique questions to identify your food when letting you know that your order is ready. For example, they might ask you “what was your first car?” Then, when your order is up, they’d call out “Buick Regal!” and you’d know that your deliciousness is ready. (Yes, my first car was a Buick Regal — velour interior and all.)

That morning, the question was “what’s an item on your bucket list?”. I can’t remember what answer we chose for our group order but a few minutes later, they call out “Iceland!” and we kind of look around at each other. Iceland was not the answer we chose.

Of all of the different questions this restaurant asks and of all the mornings, the mom and daughter that came in right before us had chosen Iceland as their answer.

I do firmly believe in coincidence but sometimes you just have to acknowledge that the Sovereign Creator of the universe — to whom we’re connected, spiritually — is just giving you a reminder that you’re on the right path.

Categories
Traveling

Just a quick update.

Greetings, all!

It’s been a hot minute since we last gave an update on all things Iceland (read the Intro page for a refresher) so we wanted to let you know where we were with everything.

We mentioned last year that it was our intent to:

  1. sell our home,
  2. sell our van and truck,
  3. move our family to Iceland,
  4. leave by Summer-Fall 2020, and
  5. remain there for a minimum of 1-2 years.

It’s been about a year since we last talked about all of that and, well, we we got like one-and-a-half of those things done.

Andy Samberg - Cool Cool Cool

And although we’ve encountered a lot of setbacks since then (global pandemic, family matters, closed borders, etc.), we feel like the timing of everything has more to do with what we can’t see/experience right now rather than what we can.

In other words, God has been preparing some valuable conversations in and around Reykjavík — conversations that maybe weren’t quite ready to happen until the timing was right.

As of right now, we’ll be leaving towards the end of June. 

We’ve definitely been hesitant to mention yet another departure date due to all of the setbacks that we’ve encountered, but we also wanted everyone to be aware. 

As for the duration of the stay, we’re just trying to leave that up to what God continues to imprint on us — and, to be honest, we pray that we’ll be patient enough to listen.

Thanks so much for all the prayers and support during this past year — it’s been a journey already, for sure — and we’re excited to see what the next chapter brings!

Most sincerely,
Jason + Heather

Categories
Uncategorized

Thanks

We just wanted to say thanks — for praying, for helping, for your concern, for prayers, for everything. Bookmark this site for future updates.

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